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Sennheiser RS 175 RF Wireless Headphone System review: Premium wireless headphones for TV watching

Battery life for all the new models is rated at 18 hours, which should satisfy even hard-core binge watchers. And it's worth noting that you can buy a second pair of the HDR 175 headphones used in the RS 175 system and the base station can transmit sound to both pairs at once.

What you get in the box. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance

The RS 175 system demonstrates how far, literally, high-end wireless performance has come. We couldn't verify Sennheiser's claimed 328 foot line-of-sight range for the headphones' transmitter, but we were able to step out of an apartment, go down the hall and still have glitch-free sound up to approximately 15m (50 feet) away from the transmitter base. (The extended range comes in handy when you want a kitchen snack break while still being tapped into the action of a sporting event, for example).

We also had no problem stepping into another room while wearing the headphones; the RS 175 performed perfectly without a single dropout, stutter or noise. No other pair of home wireless headphones we've tested -- we're looking at you, Bluetooth -- has been as trouble-free.

Sound quality is quite good, more or less on par with similarly priced wired headphone models, and that's high praise for wireless headphones.

Side view of the headphones charging. Sarah Tew/CNET

The RS 175 headphone system sounds well-balanced with music and movies, though the bass had a tendency to sound overly rich. The NAD Viso HP50 , a wired model, was more transparent and open-sounding, but some listeners might prefer the RS 175's warmer sound.

We didn't hear a significant difference in sound quality when switching between the RS 175's optical digital and the 3.5mm analog input.

As we mentioned earlier, the RS 175 is a closed-back design, so it doesn't sound as open and spacious as open-back headphones like the (wired) Grado SR325e , but does have the advantage of not leaking sound to disturb someone sleeping nearby.

We tried the RS 175's two-step Surround Sound feature with a few films, and it does "open up" the sound a bit, but also adds hollowness. Returning to plain stereo, the sound is more immediate and the stereo imaging is more sharply focused. Once we got used to the faux surround effect, though, it worked well enough for most films. It's easy enough to toggle the surround on and off and see if you like the effect.

Bass Boost definitely kicks up the bass, but we felt the non-boosted bass level was satisfying. Still, for those who crave a little extra kick in the bass the RS 175 can supply it.

Conclusion

Yes, there are cheaper Bluetooth options for using wireless headphones while watching TV (you can connect a Bluetooth dongle to your TV and then pair it with any Bluetooth headphone model). However, if you're looking for a more premium sound experience that offers a rock-steady connection, no latency issues and extended range, the Sennheiser RS 175 Wireless Headphone System is a good choice, even at its somewhat elevated price.

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